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Parti Québécois


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(PQ) (Canada)

A political party founded by Lévesque in 1968 which united various separatist movements to form a coherent strategy for gaining the independence of the largely French‐speaking province of Quebec from the rest of Canada. Since the majority of Quebeckers were against a severance of ties with Canada, the PQ developed the idea of ‘sovereignty‐association’, a vague plan whereby Quebec would become a sovereign state, but would retain close links with Canada, including a common currency.

The PQ quickly gained popular support, allowing it to win the 1976 provincial elections in Quebec. In a 1980 referendum, however, 60 per cent voted against sovereignty. The party was subsequently weakened and divided about whether to pursue pragmatic government or continue to push for independence.

The PQ lost power to the Liberal Party in 1984, regaining it only under the leadership of Jacques Parizeau (b. 1930) in 1994, one year after the Bloc Québécois (BQ) had been successful in the provincial elections.

The PQ organized another referendum on the sovereignty of Quebec in 1995, which it narrowly lost. To increase popular support for sovereignty, Parizeau gave way to the more charismatic Bouchard in early 1996. Under Bouchard's leadership, the PQ turned its attention increasingly to the province's economic problems. As Quebec was one of the net recipients of federal funds, fostering economic growth was considered crucial in furthering support for independence. The goal of economic recovery, however, has forced the PQ to take more conciliatory attitudes towards the province's pro‐federalist Anglophone business community. Economic issues also pushed the question of independence into the background, causing a further decline in the PQ's popularity. This was not halted by Bouchard's more radical successor from 2001, Bernard Landry. In the 2003 provincial elections, the PQ gained only 45 out of 125 seats in the provincial assembly. From 2005, it was led by André Boisclair (b. 1966), who confirmed the PQ's commitment to another referendum on sovereignty. This was rejected in the 2007 elections, when the PQ was pushed into third place and lost the status of the official opposition.http://www.pq.orgThe home page of the Parti Québécois.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — History of the Americas.


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